BRASELTON, Ga. – With class championships all but decided entering the season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans, the focus for some teams shifted to the final segments of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.
The Patrón Endurance Cup rewards top performers in the four WeatherTech Championship endurance races: the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and the 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
Points are awarded at strategic intervals for each race, with five points going to each class leader at those intervals, followed by four points for second place, three for third, and two points for all others from fourth place onward. Motul Petit Le Mans points were awarded at the four-hour and eight-hour marks and the finish.
The No. 5 Cadillac and drivers Christian Fittipaldi, Joao Barbosa and Filipe Albuquerque did just enough to win the Patrón Endurance Cup in the Prototype class by four points, 46-42, over season-long champions Jordan Taylor and Ricky Taylor in the No. 10 Cadillac.
The Taylors won the opening two rounds at Daytona and Sebring, but scored the minimum two points in the five remaining segments at Watkins Glen and Road Atlanta. Those finishes, combined with a win by the Mustang Sampling team at Watkins Glen and a second-place run at the end of the opening segment at Road Atlanta, were enough to give the No. 5 team the title.
The performance of both teams gave Cadillac the manufacturer championship in the Patrón Endurance Cup.
In the GT Le Mans class, five teams went into the season finale in contention for the Patrón Endurance Cup, with the No. 911 Porsche Team of Dirk Werner and Patrick Pilet up by two points on the No. 66 Ford GT of Dirk Mueller and Joey Hand.
That gap proved to be just enough, as the No. 911 scored eight points in the Motul Petit Le Mans, four points for running second at the four-hour mark and the minimum two points in the remaining segments. The No. 66 fell just short with nine points.
The results were flipped, however, in the manufacturer battle. The season-long performance of the two-car Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team earned Ford the manufacturer’s title.
The Patrón Endurance Cup race in the GT Daytona class ultimately came down to the season-long, championship-winning No. 63 Ferrari team of Christina Nielsen, Alessandro Balzan and Matteo Cressoni and the No. 33 Mercedes team of Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Mario Farnbacher.
The No. 33 Mercedes-AMG team trailed by one point entering the Motul Petit Le Mans. They rode a third-place run at the four-hour mark of the race and led at the eight-hour mark to separate itself from the No. 63 Ferrari to win the Patrón Endurance Cup by four points, 40-36.
That effort was enough for Mercedes-AMG to win the GTD Patrón Endurance Cup manufacturer title as well.
The No. 38 team of James French, Pato O’Ward and Kyle Masson clinched the Patrón Endurance Cup in the Prototype Challenge class before the Motul Petit Le Mans.
But the team looked to not only sweep the season in the PC class, but also every Patrón Endurance Cup segment.
After leading at the four-hour mark, Masson was involved in an incident with a Prototype car, removing the team from contention. The No. 26 ORECA FLM09 of John Falb, Garett Grist and Tomy Drissi went on to lead at the eight-hour mark and win the race.
CREDIT: IMSA Communications